Donny's Ramblings


The Hardcore Truth || An Ex-Porn-Producer Reveals 10 Myths About Pornography

The Hardcore Truth | An Ex-Porn Producer Reveals 10 Myths About

By Matt Fradd and Donny Pauling.  Click the image to get your free copy!

Covenant Eyes has decided to give away the eBook written by Matt Fradd and yours truly.  In this 30 page eBook, Matt and I discuss porn in a very open way that will open the minds of many.  The short length of the book is done on purpose:  this is for someone who needs to read what we’ve got to say, but doesn’t want to spend hours on end reading a full length book.

This book is a handy resource for anyone who wants to be able to help those struggling with porn, who want to educate those who think porn is “no big deal,” or those who want weapons in their own personal arsenal when fighting an attraction to pornography.

Click here to get your free copy: Hardcore Truth: An Ex-Porn Producer Reveals 10 Myths About Pornography.


Conversations with Ted Haggard – A Prelude

Last week I had the privilege to sit down with Ted Haggard, who was in town to attend a Pastor’s conference at a local church. In the coming days I’d like to share with you several things I discussed with him.

Ted Haggard Tweet Last Wednesday

One of Ted Haggard's "Tweets" from Last Wednesday (screencap from my iPhone's 'Tweetie' app)

Going into our conversations, I had my B.S. detector turned way up. If Ted tried to sugarcoat any of his actions, if he tried to downplay anything, if he was disingenuous at all, I’d be the first to scream it from the rooftops. But I can tell you this, dear Constant Reader, the Ted Haggard I met with was a very warm man, humbled by his own sin nature and holding nothing back. I saw a man who loves Jesus, a man who was at times sad, at other times upset, and above all, didn’t make excuses for his actions. To be honest, I saw a man who I identify with.

So often we put religious leaders on a pedestal, and if they fall we are hurt on a deeper level than we’d be if most others in our lives were to fall. Some of us are angry and resist extending forgiveness. Some of us scream of hypocrisy. Still others celebrate the comeback of fallen leaders like we would that of our favorite NFL team, down in the 4th quarter, but who miraculously pulls off a last second victory to win a conference championship for a place in the Superbowl.

And why is it that the comeback of a religious leader is so celebrated by some, you might ask? Perhaps it’s because we see someone who isn’t the closest thing to God in the flesh, as we’d formerly esteemed him or her, and who is, after all, one of us. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. Whatever it is, I’ll admit that I am one of those who has been heartened by watching Ted Haggard’s recovery with the support of his amazing wife and biological family, especially so after speaking with him in person, asking some tough questions and receiving real, honest answers.

Our first meeting took place last Monday morning.  I turned on my Sony digital audio recorder and we spoke for nearly three hours. Early Tuesday I received a Facebook message from Ted asking if I would call him on his cell and discuss meeting yet again for a follow up interview, as there were some things on his heart that he really wanted to make sure I shared with those who read the article I write about him. This second meeting lasted nearly two hours, and like the first, I took my pastor along to contribute to the conversation. In fact, I’m sure you’ll be able to read some of Dr. G’s thoughts on his blog at some point.

I’m requesting that you come back and read about these conversations, and invite a friend to do the same. Invite your entire email address book, all of your twitter followers, your Facebook friends, every person still on your MySpace friends list, and your entire church congregation.  I’ll have the first article up no later than this coming Monday afternoon – hopefully sooner – and intend to follow it with others. Regardless of your thoughts on Ted Haggard’s crisis, I know you’ll find something of interest.  I look forward to sharing this experience with you.

See you then!


An Email From a Beautiful Girl, both Inside and Out

Parts of the following email fill me with happiness, yet other parts break my heart, all at the same time. I’ve stayed in contact with this girl over the years since she modeled for “soft core” (meaning: posing solo/alone) images. She’s had ups and downs, but is now in school and has a really cool secretarial job. If you have a heart at all I think you’ll “get it”. I don’t have to write what is said between the lines, and I don’t have to talk about some of the things that have happened in her life. In fact, I’ve removed a few paragraphs because they were very personal. But enough remains that I think you’ll get the picture.

So, I don’t really go to people’s pages… but I clicked on yours and holy shit you went into a debate with Ron Jeremy. It made me happy. I can’t stand that guy. I’ve never seen him, in action, haha, but he’s an old slimy gross porn weirdo. And he gives me the heeby jeebys. Yuk.

I was going to say, also, that it’s not that I regret what I did as far as the shoots etc, some wierdo is getting his rocks off to my picture somewhere and that is a little disturbing, but I learned a lot. I learned that I don’t have to be slutty, to be sexy. I don’t have to be revealing to reveal beauty. I was a kid, at 18 honestly, no one can make decisions like that without someday most likely regretting it. I still don’t feel grown up, I still feel weird signing contracts, like even for a Macy’s card, because I think, will I regret this later. Mostly with contracts, you can cancel cards, etc. but with something that steals images of you in a way that you later regret, it really hits home, and I think about it a lot.

I used to be a lot more concious of my low self esteem, I always made sure I felt good about myself before leaving the house, I usually wore makeup and did my hair and I liked skimpy clothing, but really, now, now that I feel like I am a good person and I am beautiful no matter how crappy I think I look compared to the crap on tv, I just look back and I think about how stupid I was. I always try to learn from my mistakes, and that was one of them.

I thank you though, for being pretty damn cool about it the whole time, you never asked me to do anything that I felt was super weird, you never pressured me. And I still have the discs of the shoots, the few that I did, like two or something, plus that one thing… although I look cute, I don’t look pretty. I look like a HO to be honest. and it’s so far from myself that I feel like it wasn’t even me. What was me, was that night I called you, and you came and got me. Sorry if I am bringing things up that you really don’t wanna think about, but overall I am just glad that you got out of that whole thing. And that we kept in touch because you’re perhaps the only person in my life that understands me in this way, with the whole porn thing. I totally hate porn, now, and I kinda did before. Thats why I wanted only to do solo non video stuff… etc.

You’re a great guy.

I just kinda had a moment and my heart came out a little.

You understand me in a lot of ways no one does, and no one ever will, because you were the sole being that shared that experience with me. I don’t regret it, I learned from it. It was something I could see as becoming a trap, easy money etc, but it’s not easy, because it’s not easy on the mind. It doesnt hurt me anymore, it did for a little bit. But I’m a resilient person, I have been conditioned my whole life to be that way, to overcome major obstacles.

The naked body is kind of sacred, even more sacred to me since I showed it all because it made me realize how much it meant to me. That I should not share it freely, that it should be exclusive. A temple.

I asked if she’d let me use her email on my blog or when speaking to people:

I hope your talk goes extremely well! Ya, use whatever you want of what I say, it’s a compliment to me that it is worth something.

I’ve read through this several times. Sometimes I smile. Sometimes my eyes fill with tears. Do you get it? Really, do you? If you’re consuming porn, just stop. It doesn’t matter if you’re a producer or a consumer, in the Supply and Demand Circle we all play a part.


Thank God for Evolution

Put this on your reading list, fellow Christians:

“Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World” by Michael Dowd

This book is on my reading list, as I feel it should be for every Christian who discounts evolution or for those who, like me, believe in Theistic Evolution and would like more information to use in our discussions.

Evolution and Creation are NOT mutually exclusive, my evolution-rejecting friends.

At the beginning of this book there is a list of the “Author’s Promises”. I decided to share four of them with you:

To those of you who have rejected evolution… I promise that the secular version of evolution you have rejected is not the version of evolution presented in these pages. Indeed, if the understanding of our collective past and the vision of our common destiny outlined here do not inspire you to be more faithful in all your relationships, to find new ways to bless others and the world, and to awaken eagerly each morning to a life filled with meaning and purpose, then please continue to reject evolution!

To those who accept evolution begrudgingly (like death and taxes)… I promise that this book will provide you with an experience of science, and evolution specifically, that will fire your imagination, touch your heart, and lead you to a place of deep gratitude, awe and reverence. You will also find here effective ways to talk about evolution to any friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who are biblical literalists or young earth creationists.

To devoutly committed Christians… Whether you are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Anabaptist, or New Thought, and whether you consider yourself conservative, moderate, or liberal, my promise to you is that the sacred evolutionary perspective offered here will enrich your faith and inspire you in ways that believers in the past could only dream of.

To agnostics, humanists, atheists ad freethinkers.. I promise that you will find nothing here that you cannot wholeheartedly embrace as being grounded in a rationally sound, mainstream scientific understanding of the Universe. I also promise that the vision of “evolutionary spirituality” presented here will benefit you and your loved ones without your needing to believe in anything otherworldly.

Other “promises” are listed, but these are the ones I wanted to include for this blog post.

You can purchase the book on amazon by clicking the image above, or you can visit the official website here.


Who Decided What Books To Place in Our Bible?

In past blog posts, and on a local message board in which I discuss such things with others, there have been a few people who have asked questions in regards to my statements as to the relationship of the Council of Nicaea to the Canonization of scripture, and my assertion that the men who met at that Council ultimately determined what books appear in the Bible you and I hold in our hands. I haven’t responded to those questions, as I knew that I’d eventually post this article.

FYI: this article is one part (of five) of a paper that I had to write for a Seminary class assignment. You’ll notice it refers to other writings not posted here. Should anyone wish to read the other writings I’d be happy to post them in a future blog post. There are also references in parenthesis to books in the Bibliography from which this paper comes. I’ll post that Bibliography as a comment to this blog post for those who might want that information.

Event #2: Canonization of Scripture

What can possibly be of more importance to the history of the church than the scriptures upon which it is based? Yet few of us have any clue why our Bibles contain the books they contain. Fewer still realize that at the time of canonization, the opinion of the Christian community was split almost 50/50 as to what should and should not be considered as scripture (Pagels, 2004, pages 170-175). While some simply accept the idea that to be considered part of the canon of scripture, writings must be traced to an apostle as the writer or main source, others point out that even those writings traced back to apostles are often in conflict.

Having received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Stanford, and her PhD from Harvard, author Elaine Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. Ms. Pagels area of expertise is early Christian history. When new religious artifacts are discovered, Pagels is often called upon to help interpret them.

In her book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Pagels points out that there are literally hundreds of pages of “gospels” and “apocrypha” written during the first centuries, many of them documents the average lay person isn’t even aware exist, that contain sayings, rituals and dialogues attributed to Jesus and his disciples. In the early years of Christianity many of these documents were just as well known as the 27 books we have in the New Testament of our Bibles today. The Gospel of John, written at close to the same time as the Gospel of Thomas, reveals a minor rivalry even amongst two of Jesus’ own disciples, and many of today’s best scholars believe John’s gospel was written as a rebuttal to teachings attributed to Thomas. One example of rivalry is hinted at by reading the books that are included in our Bibles: while the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke refer to Jesus appearing to the 11 after his Resurrection (Judas was no longer with them), the Gospel of John says Jesus appeared to 10 of them, as Thomas was not present. And it is only in John’s gospel that Thomas is referred to as a doubter. John’s gospel emphasizes that some of the key beliefs put forth by Thomas’ gospel are incorrect. The Gospel of Thomas teaches, for example, that God’s light shines not only in Jesus but potentially in everyone. Thomas’ gospel encourages the hearer not so much to believe IN Jesus, as John’s gospel requires, as to seek to know God through one’s own, divinely given capacity since all are created in the image of God (Pagels, 2004, pages 30-73).

Many amongst the first generations of Christians disagreed with John’s gospel that Jesus was God in the flesh, doubted his writings were scripture, and did not want his book to be part of what we now call the New Testament. Those believers also took issue with the fact that in a handful of places John’s gospel differs with, and even directly contradicts, the combined testimony of the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John tells a different version of Jesus’ final days, for example. John also places the story of Jesus in the Temple disrupting the money changers at the beginning of his ministry, while the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke place that as happening at the end of his ministry. Only in John’s gospel do we find the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, which was an act that upset the leaders of the time so much that they wanted to kill not only Jesus but Lazarus as well, because they were concerned that if he were to go on doing such things everyone would believe in him. It is noted that even early defenders of John’s gospel, such as a teacher named Origen, are quoted as saying that the author of John’s gospel might not always tell the truth “literally” but always told the truth “spiritually” (Origen, Commentary on John, 10.4-6).

If John was to be believed, Jesus proclaimed himself begotten of God, equal to God, and God in the flesh. If Thomas was to be believed, Jesus only claimed to have been created by God just as the rest of us, although with a deeper level of connection and understanding. According to Thomas, although he may have been of similar substance as God, Jesus was not fully man and fully God and he wanted the world to know that God’s Light could be found within all of us.

The argument between those who believed the teachings attributed to John and those who believed the teachings attributed to Thomas led to many writings and discussions. It is clear that if the four gospels of our Bibles were Matthew, Mark, Luke and Thomas we’d have a much different view of Jesus than we do now, with John’s gospel as the fourth.

One man in particular, a man named Irenaeus, wrote extensively on such matters. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, and Polycarp was a disciple of John. Irenaeus was very much in favor of showing those who followed Thomas’ teachings the errors of their ways. He was of the opinion that those who disagreed with John had “cast truth aside” and “resorted to evil interpretation” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1, c. 180). He was alarmed to learn that even amongst those in congregations to whom he personally traveled as a missionary, many were divided on whether to believe the teachings attributed to Thomas or whether to lean more towards what was taught by John’s gospel.

Irenaeus’ writings became quite influential in guiding the paths of those that would eventually decide which books belong in our Bibles. His opinion could be summed up with his assertion that if those heretics had been right, we would have no need for revelation and “the coming of the Lord” would “appear unnecessary and useless” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies). Through Irenaeus’ writings, it was made very clear that John’s gospel definitely means that God = Word = Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Irenaeus declared that teachings like Thomas’ gospel were nothing more than gnosticism pushing its influence into Christianity. Even so, the discussion continued after he died in 202 AD, and wasn’t totally settled until late the next century, many years after Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor and ended the persecution of Christians.

When I mentioned in “Event #1” that Constantine, after becoming emperor, gave back to the church all the lands that were taken from it, what I didn’t mention was that Constantine also befriended many of the bishops, even writing them personal letters (Barnes, 2006, pages 208-227). The purpose of the Council of Nicaea in 325 was to resolve disagreements over the nature of Jesus in relationship to the Father, in particular, whether He was of the same substance as God the Father or merely of similar substance. As many of us know, this council resulted in the Nicene Creed, which Constantine himself endorsed. Afterward, the official doctrine became such that “all Christians henceforth must accept and participate in the only church recognized by the emperor – the catholic (universal) church.” Even a year before the Council of Nicaea, Constantine made an attempt to legislate an end to “sects” he considered heretical, which included half the Christians in the empire (MacMullen, 1986, pages 59-119). His beliefs on what was or was not heretical (meaning, “wrong teaching”) were greatly influenced by the bishops he had befriended, who were in turn followers of the line of beliefs written by the likes of Irenaeus. Although it is often said that the canon of scripture was issued at the Council of Hippo in 393 and at the Council of Carthage in 397, because of the nature of the politics surrounding the Nicene council and Constantine’s endorsement of it, the books that conflicted with the Nicene Creed were already “on the way out.” The desire (or often times: commands) to destroy those books led those who wished to preserve them to hide and bury them in jars or even graves (we have recovered some of these texts even as recently as the mid 1900s).

In 367, Church Father (and bishop) Athanasius, wrote an easter letter that listed the 27 books we now have in our New Testament (it should be noted that Athanasius was present at the Council of Nicaea, and was very much involved with those on “the winning side”). The Western church approved the same 27 books at the Council of Hippo in 393 and at Carthage in 397 (Garlow, 2000, pg 48). In the alternate textbook assigned for this class, How God Saved Civilization, there is a quote by David F. Wright on page 49 that states the following:

Although churchmen in a literal sense created the canon (the Bible), they were only recognizing the books that had stamped their own authority on the churches. The criteria for accepting a book as canonical (authentic) were sometimes complex. Above all, it had to be written or sponsored by an apostle, and also be recognizably orthodox in context, and publicly used by a prominent church or majority of churches… But the eventual shape of the New Testament shows that the Early Church wanted to submit fully to the teachings of the apostles. It had been created by their preaching and now grounded itself upon their writings.

Whether or not one might wish to disagree with the exclusion of certain books from our Bible that for centuries had been accepted as scripture by half the Christian community, and whether or not one might wish to argue that the ultimate list of 27 books of the New Testament was greatly influenced by political pressures and favors from the first Christian Emperor, there is no doubt that the canonization of scripture is one of the most important events in all of church history. It is literally what millions have built their faith, and lives, upon.


Focusing on What’s Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


Focusing on What's Important

We all get so easily distracted by petty things and ask the wrong questions. That’s what hit me as I read this:

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over.”

Of course, we all know the outcome of that story: Jesus healed the blind man’s eyes so he could see.

I still have goosebumps, literally, from his words. “You’re asking me the wrong questions. You’re looking for someone to blame.” That is just SO like us. Like ME. Asking the wrong questions, and looking for someone to blame instead of searching, while the sun shines, for the work that I COULD and SHOULD be doing.

Today I’m going to try my hardest not to look for someone to blame. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to see the work that needs done. God help me see it.

(more and more, I’m becoming a Jesus Freak)


What Would You Do If You Knew Today Was the Last Day of Your Life?

This morning I was reading the words of a religious leader who sends out a weekly bulletin. He quoted something his mother used to tell him:

“Think, what if today was the last day of your life? What would you do with it? How would you treat those you love, and those around you? Suddenly the things around you that have so much meaning will seem so unimportant, and the purpose and meaning of your life will emerge from the shadows.”

Obviously, the purpose of such a question is to make people think on what’s truly important, hopefully causing an attitude adjustment and change in perspective. But as I sat there contemplating this question for myself I realized that what I would do if today was the last day of my life, and I knew it, would be something I do on a very regular basis anyway: I’d spend the day with my son.

I tell him all the time how much I love him, and I have no doubts whatsoever that my actions show it. If I died today, my son would be able to remember a father to whom he was the most important person in the world, who loved to play with him and chase him, who never raised his voice to him a single time in his entire life, and who he could trust to tell anything.

Despite my mismanagement of it, I’ve had a blessed life. I’ve encountered God. I’ve experienced deep love from The Father to his son, and as a father to his son.

If today was my last, I’d take a brief moment to send a few quick emails to family and friends, reassuring them that I loved them very much but that I was spending my very last day on earth doing the one thing that feeds my soul more than any other: laughing and playing with my boy.

How about you? How would you spend yours?


Signed, Another Chico Girl – Yet Another Letter from a Former Model

I too posed for you years ago… I was only 18 for a few days when I impulsively made the decision to work with you. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect on my life that it did on “Chico Girls” (above). My pictures were distributed all around town, for free which I was told was impossible…. My life changed drastically. I lost many people who I thought were great friends of mine, put my family and loved ones through more than I would ever have imagined, disrespected my self and my body, became severely depressed and rarely left my house because I was so ashamed… the list goes on. I lost sleep for months and ever where I went I heard whispers… It was the most humiliating experience I have ever been through. It has been almost 6 years since I took my pictures and they still come back to haunt me every now and then. Although I do think I personally made a terrible decision to take these pictures, I do have to say that the experience has made me a stronger person. I used to be somewhat judgmental and now am the complete opposite. I have no negative feelings towards the porn industry and the people in it, nor do I think any less of those involved. I just know it’s not for me. I have now learned to focus on many positive things in my life and have finally been moving forward since this “learning experience”. I am happy for you Donny that you have found your love for God. I hope the future brings you much happiness. God Bless.


Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About Christianity"

On May 19th I posted my controversial To Carrie, Regarding Atheism blog. On the 30th of May I followed up with a promise that I’d post scientific evidence for God in a future blog entry. It was my intention to create another blog post listing detailed references. I first planned to read a bit more, organize my thoughts and the evidences I’d found, and list them all out in another long, detailed blog post. But then I read this book:

With this book, D’Souza did exactly what I intended to do with my blog post, but in much more detail than I possible could have done. It is my opinion that if an atheist can read this book and not be convinced by the evidence presented… well, nothing will change his or her mind.

In the first 80 pages Mr. D’Souza addresses topics relating specifically to Christianity. He writes about such things as the murders during the Crusades, putting a proper perspective on them. He points out how many deaths resulted and over how many years, and then as a comparison he discusses the killings attributed to atheistic regimes throughout history. He also addresses several other topics that have been used to “attack” Christianity. All were good, but I was much more interested in the book AFTER I’d read beyond those first “defense of Christianity” pages. After all, I wanted to get to the scientific evidence for God.

And boy, was I happy to get there!

For now, I won’t say much more. I highly recommend buying this book for any friend that has “atheistic” tendencies or a hatred of Christianity. But before you give it to them, read it yourself! I’ve handed my copy out to others (my dad has it at the moment), and sent a copy to Carrie as well. When my dad returns the book to me I may write another entry on this subject, quoting a bit of D’Souza’s writings. I think, however, that this book needs to go in my “books that changed me” section over in the right column.

Buy it today. Just do it!

(Oh, and special thanks to Bill Giovannetti, my Pastor, for recommending that I read it)